UK Seeks to Strengthen Middle East Ties

November 13, 2012 by

The recent announcement that Britain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a defense partnership, which could include military sales from BAE (BA.L), EADS (EADS: NV), and Finmeccanica (FNC.MI) indicates that Britain is seeking to strengthen economic as well as diplomatic ties with its Middle Eastern partners to facilitate regional security and to counter the growing threat of Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

US Foreign Policy and the Middle East: The Next Four Years

November 11, 2012 by

Over the next four years the U.S. will face a number of foreign policy issues, most of them regional, some of them global. Conn Hallinan outlines and analyzes them, starting with the Middle East.

What the Middle East will Look Like if Iran is Attacked

November 5, 2012 by

Two weeks ago the US denied that an agreement was made to meet with Iranian officials to discuss the Iranian nuclear program after the American election. It appears that Iranian officials either expect Mr. Obama to be reelected or are trying to get back to the negotiating table before they are forced to negotiate with a Romney administration. Iran seems to be signaling its opening position - that it will settle for a “break-out” nuclear capability in exchange for the end of sanctions, or an agreement with Israel not to strike.

Iran’s Currency Crisis: Why the Revolutionary Guards will Win

October 22, 2012 by

Ever stricter sanctions targeting Iran’s Central Bank, coupled with an oil embargo, have had a severe impact on the Iranian economy. While previous sanctions were no more than a hindrance to economic activity, the latest actions have all but eradicated the state’s ability to manage the Iranian rial, which has implications beyond just a devaluation of the currency.

Despite its Iran stance, Nobel Prize for the EU

October 14, 2012 by

The Nobel Peace Prize is the most prestigious honor that can be awarded. The legacy of Alfred Nobel is so matchless and incomparable that more than one century after the first Nobel Prize was awarded, it is still the most exalted and esteemed prize conferred on people who work for the promotion and advancement of the sciences and global peace.

Iran: Heads I Win, Tails You Lose

August 14, 2012 by

I don’t know if you guys have heard, but apparently Israel is about to go to war with Iran. Not only that, but it doesn’t actually matter what is happening in Israel or the rest of the world, because any event or environment can be interpreted to mean that an Israeli strike is just around the corner. In fact, an imminent Israeli attack can be predicted based on two diametrically opposed sets of facts. For instance, in May it was reported that the decision to attack was imminent because Israeli officials were being uncharacteristically silent, and this speculation meant that an attack was about to come.

Iran Sanctions: War by Other Means

July 14, 2012 by

Now that the talks with Iran on its nuclear program appear to be on the ropes, are we on the road to war? The Israelis threaten it almost weekly, and the Obama administration has reportedly drawn up an attack plan. But in a sense, we are already at war with Iran. Carl von Clausewitz, the great theoretician of modern warfare, defined war as the continuation of politics by other means. In the case of Iran, international politics has become a de-facto state of war. According to reports, the annual inflation rate in Iran is 22.2 percent, although many economists estimate it at double that.

Is the Developing World Abandoning Iran?

July 6, 2012 by

In a recent interview, the eminent geo-strategist Ian Bremmer suggested that a “nuclear-armed Iran” is inevitable because, in an emerging “G-Zero World” where no single bloc of countries can dominate international affairs, the emerging powers can frustrate the West’s efforts to thwart Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. There are basically two underlying assumptions to his argument: first, that the rising powers have the will and the capacity to ameliorate Iran’s growing isolation; and second, that Iran is willing to push its nuclear frontiers at any cost. However, recent years give lie to these assumptions. Not only are many emerging powers beginning to distance themselves from Iran, but also Tehran itself — facing the prospect of an economic meltdown — is beginning to reexamine its nuclear calculus.

The Futility of Talk: Why Negotiations with Iran Won’t Work…Yet

June 10, 2012 by

A few days ago, a top UN official announced a new round of talks with Iran over access to restricted nuclear sites. The talks are the latest in a diplomatic effort to engage Iran over its nuclear program, reflecting recent optimism that a negotiated solution is possible. Only a few weeks ago Catherine Ashton, the lead negotiator for the P5+1 talks in Baghdad, confidently expressed her desire to secure “the beginning of the end” of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. Both parties left Baghdad empty handed, though faith in a diplomatic way forward remained, as both parties agreed to meet again in Moscow on June 18th.

Iran: Why this time is Different

May 3, 2012 by

The latest P5+1 talks in Istanbul rejuvenated the diplomatic track between Iran and the West, paving the way for a new chapter in Iranian nuclear negotiations. Yet if the recently concluded talks were a test of intentions, the upcoming negotiations in Baghdad are going to be a real test of wills. Both sides will have to overcome huge obstacles if they want to establish a “sustained process of serious dialogue” to resolve the Iranian nuclear impasse. The only way the Baghdad nuclear talks can work is if both sides confine their demands to a mutually acceptable deal.

An Unlikely Peace: Iran’s Quest for Nuclear Weapons is Likely to Lead to War

April 21, 2012 by

As Israel has faced the threat of Arab armies and Islamic terrorism throughout its history, it has struggled to maintain a strong deterrence in the Middle East, one that will prevent other countries in the region from continuing to attack and to kill Israeli citizens. One of today’s most important issues in foreign affairs is Iran’s quest to obtain nuclear weapons and how their journey towards nuclear dominance in the Middle East might bring America and Israel into the conflict.

Profiting from Patience: Why Israel Should Not Act Unilaterally Against Iran

April 16, 2012 by

Even before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took the stage at the 2012 AIPAC conference, the crowd of more than 13,000 participants knew what the topic of his speech would be: Iran. Speaking with passion unmatched by any of the other notable speakers, including US President Barack Obama and Israeli President Shimon Peres, PM Netanyahu used biblical quotes, touching personal stories, and unbridled rhetoric to ensure that those in attendance understood that Israel would no longer stand by as Iran developed a nuclear weapons program. His speech made it clear that Israel was losing patience with the diplomatic approach that has been favored by President Obama, and that Israel was seriously considering unilateral military action.

Why Iran will Compromise this Time

April 12, 2012 by

As we inch closer to the crucial nuclear talks between Iran and the world powers, the so-called P5+1, the primordial question is whether this time will be different: Is Tehran willing to make necessary compromises – from greater nuclear transparency to more stringent restrictions on its enrichment activities - to reverse the economic siege that is bringing the country close to the edge? Is she going to use the talks as a delaying tactic or will she finally strike a mutually-acceptable deal with the West? From the perspective of the Iranian leadership, with sanctions beginning to squeeze the Iranian economy - atop intensifying threats of military invasion and growing Western naval presence in the Persian Gulf - the nuclear impasse is worryingly morphing into a question of regime survival.

Coming Up: A Tehran Communiqué?

March 23, 2012 by

Arguably, growing tensions over Iran’s nuclear impasse represent today’s greatest international security challenge. Current Western sanctions against Iran are biting hard, but they are also hurting both the Iranian population and global consumers. With rising concerns over a possible “supply shock” — as Iran struggles to sell its oil and alternative producers such as Saudi Arabia and Libya scramble over dwindling spare capacity — energy prices are inching closer to their staggering 2008 levels.

China: Tehran’s Reprieve?

March 15, 2012 by

The latest chapter in the Iranian nuclear saga contains some signs that coordinated unilateral sanctions from the United States and the European Union are actually working. But, will China’s reluctance to jump on board provide the Iranian regime with the trapdoor that it needs to escape the noose and hang onto power? While the latest round of sanctions has still fallen short of its intended goal of forcing Iran to renounce its uranium enrichment activities, it has succeeded in applying tangible economic pressure on the beleaguered regime in Tehran.

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